I'm working on an article/talk about how school districts can add and allow new technologies on their networks while maintaining effective security and privacy policies. I would like to talk to:
CTOs who have found a way to say "yes" when teachers want access.

Teachers in the classroom who faced barriers when trying to get access from school to new technologies and how you overcome them.

If you use Web 2.0 tools with your students, how much attention do you pay to privacy statements and what the providers of the tools do with the data collected in their applications?


Tags: 2.0, access, network, privacy, security, web

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As a teacher who fights to gain access to newer technological tools, I would love to hear how other's have worked their way through the maze that district/tech dept officials can make you run through. I am tired of hitting my head on the brick wall!!!
Hi Peter,
How do you work with district officials to get access? Is there a formal process or is it an informal request? Do you take responsibility for reading privacy and terms and conditions of web based applications before using them with students? Do you ever talk about them with your students?

I'm curious to get a feel for what's like to be a teacher and to bring these valuable tools into the classroom.
Let's see... It is a rather formal and informal process. You start with the formal process (when the site is blocked you are asked if you for it to be reviewed and reclassified - which is approved sometime down the road about half the time). Then you try the informal process: I beg, beg some more, plead my case, argue, fight, and grow incredibly fustrated then get only about half of what I have asked. It is an incredibly stupid and painful process to go through to get sites "unblocked" - it is also one in which which the IT department seems to relish as they know they have the control over the way a teachers can deliver content (as they know best).

I will always read the TOS before using an application to ensure that my students are eligilble to use it in the first place - no point in fighting the IT department for something that cannot to be used. Re students, we do go over the TOS together as I think it is important that students (and adults) learrn how to read legal documents and understand what is being said.
I build my own using free and open source web applications and we serve them on an inexpensive shared server.

I audit the software carefully looking for holes and gaps with security and privacy and modify the code to make it work.

I think too many teachers are cavalier about privacy and guarding their students' personal information.
Hi Steve,

It sounds like you have a kind of "walled garden" approach. Do you have a formal way for teachers or students to add or request an application? Does your faculty ever discuss privacy and implications of sharing data on public networks in public applications? (Not so much the risk of putting up a photo damaging to your reputation, but more the consequences of providing a lot of personal data to companies looking for ways to market and sell to you and who may sell your data to others.)

I have used walled garden for applications in which moderation would be impractical or defeat the purpose. I have also used moderated public blogs and comments. Our informal policy has been that all that can be viewed by the public must be moderated.

We are an extremely small school with 175 students PK-12. If somebody wants to do something, they check with me, I work with them to try best to meet their needs using self hosted software, then run it by the technology committee for approval. There is quite an arsenal of software out there to meet needs without going to third parties.

Nobody has proposed using a "public" application, but our faculty is far from the cutting edge when it comes to technology.

I have an unfinished draft of a web publishing policy that addresses some of these things. I have put it on hold pending information about NYSED's long overdue "tech plan" hoping that it will give some guidance.

I feel that teachers have no right to instruct students to hand over their personal information and browsing behavior to third parties.
I get tired of computers being the answer to everything needed in education. That aid, I think there are many Web 2.0 technologies, that if used correctly, could engage students and parents in the education process. These NING Social Networks, for example, could be used by teachers to establish a collaborative learning and info sharing environment with students and families. There are probably rules against that though.

Good Luck!

Lincoln B.
Small business news
I agree with you! I'm curious to learn how districts are managing this process in a timely and efficient way.

I've seen districts where there are so many "yes, but..." responses from IT when teachers request access that teachers lose heart and go around the IT directors or stop using technology.

I've also seen tech directors who are pushing technology into classrooms where teachers don't need it, don't use it and never turn it on.

I don't think technology is always the answer, but there are definitely some interesting learning experiences that technology enables. There are districts where tech directors are working with curriculum & instruction, listening to teachers, students, and parents, and enabling access in interesting, appropriate, and engaging ways. I want to learn more about how they build consensus and make good choices. There are definitely good reasons to say no as well as yes.



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